Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway
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N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss • Timothy Orr • Laura Orr
An Abbreviated Life : A Memoir
This is a great memoir about growing up rich but not privileged. The author was surrounded by material comforts and famous people, but had no one to care for her. Her father lived in Southeast Asia and her mother was impressive and witty but over bearing and terrifically needy. The author is a very good writer. This memoir has immediacy. One can see the little girl trying to get sleep on a school night while the party rages on. One can see the little girl so eager for happy contact with an unfortunate mother with no boundaries. One can see the little girl clinging to her abusive nanny because the woman does care about her in her own way.
The poignancy of this memoir comes as the grown up little girl struggles to overcome the past without any guidelines for living a “normal” life. The breakthrough comes when she no longer sees her mother and hides from her on the other side of the world. This memoir rings very true; childhood abuse has long lasting effects. One hopes that this remarkable writer will be freed of them.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Phil Knight’s memoir is a wildly entertaining look at the founding – a difficult one – of the world’s most successful athletic company. As Knight makes clear, the path forward was never easy. He began by cooperating with the Onitsuka Company of Japan (now Asics) to sell its shoes on the west coast of the U.S.; and he eventually went to war with the company.
Shoe Dog shows us the value of grit, as Knight and his early partners were often down but never quite out. He also fully acknowledges the many instances in which luck, pure luck, was on his side.
This is not only Knight’s personal and professional tale, it is also the story of two major figures of the early days of the running movement: Coach Bill Bowerman of Oregon – inventor of the waffle sole, and Steve Prefontaine. Go Pre! If Knight was the mind of Nike, these two legends constituted its soul.
Oddly, this account appears to have been written back in 2007. Very late in the story, Knight refers to Nike’s sales “last year,” in 2006. No matter, this is an inspirational work that’s well worth reading.
C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)
C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography from Professor George M. Marsden is fascinating exploration of one of the most influential religious books of modern times. This book is part of a series from Princeton University Press which also explores the lives and times of other monumental religious books. C.S. Lewis is still one of the most important leaders of this age, at least for the hundreds of millions he kept Christianity relevant to with his non denominational Christian books. Some know him from his fiction and scholarship, but he also was a Christian Apologist who did not discard what he came to consider a true myth.
…A Biography does a fine job of putting his famous book in context. Much of it captured the talks Lewis made on the BBC radio during the tumultuous days of World War II. The book will satisfy those who are also looking for biographical treatment of Lewis who stood out as a fantasy writer because he was a religious representative with powerful reasoning, writing, and faith. This book will provide the reader with history, insight, biography, and perspective. As shown, Lewis argument was complicated, but accessible. He is also still with us.
Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
Like many admirers of Sylvia Plath’s works, I didn’t take much time to read any poetry or stories by her husband, Ted Hughes. In articles and film, he had been painted as the one who destroyed Plath. It is tragic that he believed it as well. The truth is that he did stray from the marital bed, leaving Plath to care for their young children alone, but it is also true that long before she ever met Hughes, Plath had demons of her own.
This volume encourages me to read the works of Hughes; great poems, plays and children’s books. His poetry is beautiful. After all, he was Poet Laureate of England. |That being said, that his wife, mistress and son all committed suicide leads one to believe that Hughes was so charismatic that those nearest to him could not live without him in their lives. It is a truism that poetry and tragedy are closely related. One only has to look at the lives of Byron, Keats and Pound to know that great poetry doesn’t always follow a stable lifetime.
The author has been criticized for delving into Hughes’ private life. It would argue that the private life is critical to an understanding of Hughes’ works, particularly The Birthday Letters. Judge for yourself, but do get to know him by his writing.
Toussaint L’Ouverture, A Revolutionary Life
Although I knew the name Toussaint L’Ouverture as a leader of a successful black slave rebellion in then Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), I was not aware of his many contributions in diplomacy, governance, and political policy. Because the author is from France, the country which then controlled Saint-Domingue, he is uniquely qualified to detail L’Ouverture’s importance during the time of the struggle for the rights of men. Rather than being only an insurrectionist, L’Ouverture was concerned with controlling and building a government that would endure. In order to accomplish that aim, he had to unify the country by including literate men in his government, even though they were the same white planters who had enslaved the black population.
Consider that the United States and France had recently rebelled against their kings in order to establish human rights. By contrast, L’Ouverture did not want to break the bonds with France; however, their rule proved too constraining for him.
It is interesting to note that a man who began life as a slave became literate enough to negotiate successfully in the world arena and best those who considered him inferior by nature. He proved to be a brilliant strategist and policy framer. This is an interesting biography and well worth the read.